Residents of Mtapa and Mambo suburbs took it up upon themselves to cut trees and tall grass in Mtapa cemetery which has become an eyesore.
The cemetery which is home to more than 16 000 graves was now being used for open defecation by vendors from the nearby Mtapa market. It has also been used as a love nest by s3x workers.
Gweru residents led by the Zimbabwe National Of Associations Residents Trust (ZNOART) chairperson Reward Mhuri slashed the tall grass and cut bushes.
Mhuri said they undertook the initiative to spruce up the famed cemetery because they have a role to play as residents.
“We requested for permission from the City of Gweru to spruce up Mtapa Cemetery which had become dirty and inaccessible. As residents, we felt that we can’t fold our hands and watch this happening,” said Mhuri.
The cemetery was burnt recently and it was suspected that the local authority did so after an article published by The Mirror detailing how the cemetery had become an eyesore.
Mambo Residents Initiative Chairperson Asibu Bond Mususa who also spearheaded the cleanup effort said he was pained to see the cemetery where his relatives were buried looking so unkempt.
“I could not seat and see the cemetery in such a sorry state and I felt as residents we can do something to make the graveyard clean.
“As residents, we are here today to show respect for those who departed. We feel it is important to maintain these cemeteries for the benefit of our future generations,” he said.
The cleanup effort received widespread support from the Gweru community who applauded the dedication shown by volunteers in restoring the cemetery.
Many took to social media to express their gratitude.
The 12 hectare cemetery was established in 1892 and is a final resting place for many Gweru residents. Before Independence, it was a resting home for the whites only and the first black man to be buried in the cemetery was buried in 1982.
It has 66 Commonwealth War graves, 34 from the World War 1 and 32 from the World War 2. The cemetery has a section for Muslims.